If you’re not familiar with shiplap, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past few years. It’s that distinct wooden wall paneling that gives any space an instant rustic charm. You may have noticed it in recent Chip and Joanna Gaines renovations on Fixer Upper. Shiplap has become increasingly popular in modern-day design, and people are clamoring to get this look, which is great news if you happen to be trying to sell your home soon. The bad news? Real shiplap can be pricey and difficult to install yourself. Luckily, there is a much cheaper option: Plywood! Yes, thanks to plywood, even the most inexperienced DIYers can create their own custom look (almost) just like shiplap for a fraction of the price of real wood panels—and we’re going to tell you how. Here’s what you’ll need
Measure the length and height of your wall area.
Now that you have your plywood cut to size, it’s time to measure and mark the length and height of your wall area. This will help you determine how many rows of plywood you will need.
You will also need to know how many rows you will need to cut. This can depend on what type of look or pattern you’re going for. For example, if your shiplap walls have a long horizontal board across them instead of vertical boards like mine do, then you’ll probably only need one long piece per row (I needed 2). If they are vertical boards then they could be shorter than mine were which would require fewer cuts but still give a 3d effect when combined with different widths (like mine).
Once all this information has been gathered together we can begin cutting
Calculate the number of rows, then divide that number by two.
The first step to planning your shiplap wall is to calculate how many rows you want on the wall. The number of rows depends on the length and height of your wall, and for a uniform look it should be a multiple of 2. For example, if you have a large space that’s longer than 6 feet (72 inches) but shorter than 9 feet (108 inches), then using three rows would work well because they’ll create an equal-sized pattern across both ends of the room.
To figure out how many plywood strips you’ll need for each row, divide by two: in this case that would leave 18 inches per strip at 72 inches long divided by 2 equals 9-inch strips.
If your space is longer than 6 feet but not quite as long as 9 feet—say 7’8″ instead—you can still use 3-foot cuts because they’ll still give us even spacing within each row while allowing us enough flexibility in our measurements that we don’t have to worry about being off by more than half an inch or so when making cuts or placing pieces together.
Use a jig saw to cut the plywood into strips.
To make your shiplap wall, you’ll need to cut the plywood into strips. This is best done with a jig saw that has at least 5 amps of power, a good blade and handle, as well as some extra lubricant for the blade.
Make sure that your jig saw is sharp enough to easily cut through the wood and make sure it has plenty of power so that it doesn’t slow down or stall while you are cutting. If you have trouble getting even cuts on your first few pieces of wood, try using sandpaper or finishing nails (or both) across them before they are painted so they are easier to work with when cutting out smaller pieces later on
Lay down plastic drop cloths to protect your floors.
Before you begin applying the shiplap, make sure you’ve got a drop cloth. You’ll need it to protect your floors, furniture, walls and ceiling from stray paint splatters or nail gun debris. You can also use a drop cloth to protect your pets and children (or really anyone else who’s nearby) from all that stuff as well! Just make sure they don’t get too close because they’ll probably want to eat the paint or nails.
Use a stud finder to find where your walls are framed.
You’ll want to use a stud finder to locate where the walls are framed. A stud finder is a handheld device that detects the location of the studs in a wall, so you can mark them for placing your screws. Stud finders are available at most hardware stores and are inexpensive, usually less than $10.
If you have an older house without plastic drywall, they may be called by other names like “battery-operated electronic stud locator” or “electronic magnetic wall detector” (the latter doesn’t really make sense). Some newer homes are built with thinner layers of wood or metal between some or all rooms, which can make finding your framing tricky. If this is the case for you, try using two different kinds of these tools—one that works on metal and one that works on wood—and see which works best for your home’s construction materials.
Hang shiplap strips using a brad nailer and 1 1/4 inch nails.
- Use a brad nailer and 1 1/4 inch nails to fasten each shiplap strip.
- Use a level to make sure the wall is straight.
- Use a pencil to mark where you want the next strip of shiplap to go.
- Use a nail set to hammer in the nails that hold your first strip of shiplap against your wall so it’s secure.
Fill in nail holes and seams with wood filler and caulk.
- Fill in nail holes and seams with wood filler. Evenly apply the wood filler to each seam, using a putty knife to smooth out any excess. Let dry for at least 24 hours before sanding or painting the wall.
- Smooth out excess caulk with a damp rag by hand or with an electric sander if you have one available (this step is optional). Use a new piece of sandpaper every few minutes so you don’t clog up the sandpaper and lose your edge
Sand the entire wall with fine sandpaper.
Once you’re done staining your plywood, it’s time to sand the entire wall. To give your shiplap wall a nice smooth surface, use a fine grit sandpaper and a sanding block (or electric sander).
Clamp the first piece of plywood onto your work table and sand with the grain of the wood. Sanding in this direction will help prevent splintering or chipping when you apply stain on top of it later. With each subsequent board, use small pieces of painter’s tape to mark where each vertical line should be. This will make sure that every line is uniform across all boards so they look like one solid piece when finished
Once every line has been marked, remove any dust with an industrial vacuum cleaner (or home vacuum equipped with a narrow nozzle attachment). I recommend doing this outside because there is going to be lots of sawdust flying around that could cause respiratory distress if inhaled by anyone who doesn’t have proper protection! If there’s still some dust left behind after vacuuming up all those shavings using high-powered suction force needed for removing stubborn sawdust particles embedded deep within crevices between boards—don’t worry! Use tack cloths made specifically for removing such stubborn bits from corners where no other method works well enough alone.”
Make a mixture of primer, paint and glaze. This will create a shiplap look without having to use wood.
After you’ve applied the primer and let it dry, you can apply your base coat. To create a shiplap wall look with plywood, use a paint that has either a primer or glaze in it. This will give your plywood a smooth surface for you to apply your final layer of paint on top of.
If the first coat isn’t opaque enough for you, don’t worry. You can add another layer of paint over top of this one if needed (this is what we did). The best part about using plywood is that it’s very easy to sand down once all the layers are dry so if there are any imperfections in either coat, simply sand them away
Paint the entire wall in your custom color mix while still wet, this will help it look more natural.
- Paint the entire wall in your custom color mix while still wet, this will help it look more natural.
- Use a roller to apply the paint and roll off excess on a piece of cardboard.
- Use a brush to apply the paint, working with long strokes that overlap by about half their width. This helps blend with areas that you can’t easily reach with an extension pole or roller.
- If you have foam brushes, use them for small details like around window casings and corners where your hand cannot reach otherwise. Foam brushes don’t leave brush marks behind so they’re ideal for finishing touches too
You don’t have to tear out drywall to make a shiplap wall
You don’t have to tear out drywall to make a shiplap wall. A plywood shiplap wall is an easy way to give your room a rustic look, and with the right tools and materials, it’s also budget-friendly.
To start, measure the length of your wall and cut two pieces of plywood that are 2″ longer than that measurement. Next, cut three pieces of 1×2 lumber (1″x2″) with each piece being slightly shorter than the height you want for your shiplap paneling (this will vary depending on how thick your 1x2s are).
Now it’s time to nail those boards together; just follow these steps:
- Attach one board horizontally at the bottom using two brad nails per side.
- Then add two more boards vertically about every foot or so until you reach the top of your first piece of wood.
- Now attach another horizontal piece at both ends as well as any other places where there are gaps between boards—don’t worry about spacing everything evenly because we’ll fill in those gaps later
Good luck with installing your plywood shiplap. It will be a fun project, and you’ll be so pleased when it’s done. If you have any questions about the process, shoot us an email or post a comment below. We would love to hear from you